Starliner Stays in Orbit: NASA and Boeing Face Delays in Return Flight

By Dr. Swapnil Surwase 2 Min Read
Starliner Stays in Orbit: NASA and Boeing Face Delays in Return Flight (Image Credit: Boeing)

NASA and Boeing have announced another delay in the return of the Starliner spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore were originally scheduled to be back on Earth by now, but a series of glitches with the Starliner capsule has kept them in space. Let’s dive into the details.

The Starliner, which launched on June 5, was supposed to spend ten days at the ISS for crew inspection after its first crewed flight. However, during its journey from Earth to the ISS, it encountered new issues, including failed thrusters and helium leaks.

These setbacks prompted NASA to push back the return date first to June 18, then to June 22. Now, the team has set a new target: Tuesday, June 25, with a surface arrival at White Sands on the early morning of June 26.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, Steve Stich, emphasized that safety is not a concern. He assured that Starliner would bring the astronauts home successfully.

The spacecraft is currently connected to the service module, which houses malfunctioning RCS thrusters and helium leaks. Investigating these issues on the ISS is crucial to understanding the problem fully.

Despite the delays, Boeing VP Mark Nappi highlighted that Starliner is performing well. It has achieved 77 out of 87 test objectives for this final demo before commercial flights begin.

SpaceX’s crewed flights started in 2020, beating Boeing to the punch. If all goes well after this flight, Starliner will become the second vehicle certified by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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